Ursula Oppens - Reviews

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"Oppens is the work’s great interpreter, with a second outstanding recording released last year on the Cedille label. Her technique was insecure at the start, but she hit a confident stride in the Marcato Variation 4. By the time she reached the second restatement of the theme, she was burning with a blue flame, playing with a roiling depth and sense of inevitability. Her Cadenza to Variation 27 was overpowering." - "Celebrating Rzewski" at Bargemusic, NEW YORK CLASSICAL REVIEW, May 7, 2016

“The formidable pianist Ursula Oppens played [Amy Williams‘ Falling] beautifully. It is a short work run through with hauntingly repeated midrange pitches encircled by pungent chords and lacy filigree.“   - Bargemusic‘s Here and Now Series, THE NEW YORK TIMES, January 5, 2015

“Ursula Oppens – for whom he wrote the work – played it with characteristic skill, power, drive and intellect.“   - Wuorinen Recital at the Morgan Museum, NEW YORK CLASSICAL REVIEW, November 21, 2013

"Pianist Ursula Oppens and the Jack String Quartet provided insightful performances of music by two outstanding American-born composers - Conlon Nancarrow and Charles Wuorinen - at Le Poisson Rouge in NYC this past Sunday....Ursula Oppens has spent decades performing new music and has forged working connections with some of the most important composers around. Her playing reflects this sense of investment in the music, and her experience and expertise ring out of the piano."   - (Le) Poisson Rouge, Wuorinen and Nancarrow concert review, I Care if You Listen, March 7, 2012, March 7, 2012

"Oppens, a veteran of the new music scene, deftly handled the piece's technical challenges and guided listeners through Wuorinen's strange landscape. Through her expertly judged phrasing, the piece's tiny episodes came together in a coherent musical arc. The work was surprisingly dancelike, with a transparent texture."   - (Le) Poisson Rouge, Wuorinen and Nancarrow concert review, Bachtrack, March 7, 2012

"There is nothing equivocal about [Corgliano's] music, which is deftly infused with a dramatic and bold percussive slant. Oppens does a stellar job at honoring those aspects while imparting a certain steely grandiloquence to Corigliano's music."   - CD Review, John Corgliano "Winging It" on Cedille, THE SACREMENTO BEE, July 10, 2011

"The Cassatt players and Ms. Oppens negotiated its changes with the drama and deftness that they require, and the alert, lively interplay between the keyboard and string lines was the salient feature of their collaboration. Ms. Oppens was at her best in the crisp, agitated passages of the outer movements and the Scherzo, and if she melted easily into the ensemble texture when Brahms put the spotlight on the strings, her playing there had a soft-edged lyricism..."   - Brahms Piano Quintet in F Major, Bargemusic, Allan Kozinn for THE NEW YORK TIMES, July 5, 2011

"The masterful contemporary pianist Ursula Oppens is attuned to the nuances and colors in these Corigliano works, joined by Jerome Lowenthal, another pianist known for his interpretations of contemporary classical music."   - CD Review, John Corigliano "Winging It" on Cedille, DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE, June 24, 2011

"Oppens makes a tour de force of all five ingeniously plotted etudes, the first taking the left hand through all manner of digital gymnastics, the fourth being a study in wildly ornate ornamentation. Listen to how easily Oppens negotiates the fiendish hand-crossings of No. 3, a study in alternating fifths and thirds; throughout her performance she cedes nothing in virtuoso brilliance to Hough (on Hyperion) or Tocco (on Sony)...her account is among the very best on disc, even given the stiff competition."  - CD Review, John Corigliano "Winging It", John von Rhein for THE CLASSICAL REVIEW, June 10, 2011

"The performances here are pretty stupendous. Ursula Oppens takes all the solos, and she's joined by Jerome Lowenthal in the duo pieces. Her playing is spirited, subtle, colorful, and wholly winning. She conveys the freedom of the improvisations in Winging It and chooses an excellent timing for the optional repetitions in the Fantasia on an Ostinato."   - CD Review, John Corigliano "Winging It" on Cedille, ClassicsToday.com, May 27, 2011

"Alvin Singleton's "BluesKonzert," from 1995, pays ruminative tribute to Julius Hemphill, an accomplished jazz saxophonist and innovative composer who died that year. The pianist Ursula Oppens, a founding member of the American Composers Orchestra and Mr. Hemphill's longtime companion, brought her customary intensity and precision to fidgeting tremolos and obsessively wheeling birdcall figurations, with handsome support from the ensemble. "   - American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, Steve Smith for the New York Times, October 18, 2010

"Ms. Oppens extended her Elliott Carter franchise with "Tri-Tribute" (2007-8), a set of three short, sparkling works that she played with consummate clarity and zest."   - Leonard Shure Tribute Concert, The New York Times, July 26, 2010

"One of the foremost interpreters of contemporary classical music...Throughout, Oppens played with authority and panache."   - Van Cliburn Foundation, Scott Cantrell for The Dallas Morning News, February 22, 2010

"Many of us approach concerts of new classical music with trepidation. Will we know the composers? Will we like the music? Will we understand it? Well, more of us should attend new-music concerts like the one starring pianist Ursula Oppens on Saturday afternoon at the Modern Art Museum. Oppens not only skillfully played solo piano pieces by living American composers William Bolcom, Tobias Picker, John Corigliano and Elliott Carter but also talked about the music with some easygoing prompting by moderator Shields-Collins Bray."   - Van Cliburn Foundation, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, February 20, 2010

"This is not easy fare, but Oppens embraces it almost rapturously. Among her many gifts is the sense of unity she confers on this disparate collection, shunning chronological order in favour of a sequence that both makes dramatic sense and leads the willing pilgrim into the eye of a hurricane... {she has} an intuitive feeling for destination and a formidable technique that allows no expressive possibility to elude her."   - Carter Celebration, San Francisco Performances, The Financial Times, December 10, 2008

"Oppens' steely fingers and tender, inviting sense of lyricism infused the pieces on her program with athleticism and grace."   - Carter Celebration, San Francisco Performances, Joshua Kosman for The San Francisco Chronicle, December 9, 2008